9 Reasons Your Child Should Learn to Code (And One Word of Caution)

Google article about why coding matters to child education!

So, let’s go!

  1. Programmers are in high demand
  2. Learning to code leads to a competitive advantage
  3. Programming knowledge helps kids better understand the world around them
  4. Coding is fun and satisfying
  5. Coding improves creativity
  6. Coding improves problem solving
  7. Coding instills persistence
  8. Coding improves collaboration
  9. Coding improves communication

https://www.idtech.com/blog/5-reasons-your-child-should-learn-to-code

Lego mindstorm

Turning your family trip to Legoland into STEM activity

I remember when my son was only 11 years old we went to Legoland at California. I saw Mindstorm Workshop and had awesome time there building Mindstorm robots  with my son. They guide you how to build robots and do some missions by coding. It was the first for us to get introduced to Lego Mindstorm and since then we bought Mindstorm and enjoyed a lot of STEM activities at home.

Before visiting any location of Legoland please google or check out below image to pre-register (if you are visiting one in California). It helps one of activity at Legoland visit a valuable STEM worthy for your kiddos.

mindstorm

Your visit to legoland and its thrill ride with your kiddos will be interesting way to introduce STEM mindset if you plan ahead and play well. SchoolYard blog talks about how to help k-12 kids to be prepared for better theme park experiences while enjoying exiting rides.

 

Starting school coding program as a volunteer parent

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Hi,

I am sharing how I help my son’s school start a school coding program (a part of STEM initiatives). Many school these days have a program related to coding or MAKER space but one thing for sure is a bit pricy if those programs are hosted by an education vendor outside. The program we hosted was mostly based on parents or volunteer group so it was affordable and well received among parents.

1.Getting started

A few parents (who got involved in after school coding program) submitted proposal to the school board and we got an acceptance. We started 2-3 volunteer parents who help administration (enrollment, snacks, logistics, etc) and actual teaching. We did about 12 weeks long program every other week. This format is not required but it was a good start based on how many volunteer parents got involved. We rotated 2 teachers every other time so that each teacher can prepare curriculum only 6 weeks. We opened finally the program and enrollment fee was only around $60 for the entire 12 sessions. We had MAX around 8-12 students (from 5th to 8th graders) in our program (based on volunteer group size).

2.Teaching materials

We covered using Scratch (MIT developed visual programming) as a main program. There are many syllabus out there you can easily download and it didn’t take much time for teaching parents to prep for the program. We also bought mbot (https://www.makeblock.com/steam-kits/mbot)  robots (about 6 of them) so that we can cover 12 students (each team [team of two] can have one robot). The beauty of mbot is to leverage Scratch coding to learn / control robotics engine. Also if you prepare more advanced version / mobile friendly version you can go for Codey Rocky (https://www.makeblock.com/steam-kits/codey-rocky)

3.Dynamics (guest speaker and field trip)

We invited a few quest speakers who are in the IT field to talk about their professions and visions. We also took students to a company field trip. We went to goDaddy office at the end of the program. Students enjoyed the company tour as well as all those swags. We also planned to go volunteer works (actually teach coding) in the undeserved area so that students can be teachers next time to share their learning. It was amazing to see how 6th grader actually can help and teach other younger kids.

Please feel free to contact me for any question to coordinate school coding club or even in the community.

 

 

 

How to use family time for fun STEM activity

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1.Try VR Movie Time

If you search some of ebay tech shopping list you can buy cheap VR sets (less than or around $10) which can be used with your mobile devices. Help kids to try on VR set and watch movie together. App stores has a tones of FREE games or short film selection you can watch. If you have more decent budget you can shoot for more full flown VR set like Daydream ViewGear VRMirage Solo and Oculus Go.

2.Try Volunteer time to teach STEM 

Use one of your family time planned to be converted into high energy volunteer time leveraging STEM education. It can be fun raising activities, local charity event or etc. Contact a event host and talk about potential option for your family team to teach STEM education (code.org, scratch or math) to young audiences. I have done this type of activities last 3 years now and it’s such a enriching and blast time to my kid and myself.

3.Family Racing 

Try to secure time for your family to assemble robot kits (simple one) together and race together. I have done this activity with my son many times and it’s worth and such a great time for all of us. My family robot racing assembly kit is mbot. Or help racing together your pet if you have any.

racing

Newest model  (Codey Rocky)as below

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4.Geocaching

Geocaching is another great activity to do treasure hunting using GPS enabled kit like phone or other mobile device. Try a new place one at a time and discover a new place and get incentivized while hunting goecaching.

Top 5 Free Kids Coding Websites of All Time

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Codakids has a great selection of FREE coding websites for kids. Here is the full article.

https://codakid.com/top-5-free-kids-coding-websites-of-all-time/

CodaKid is an online kids coding academy and tech camp that teaches kids to create games, apps, and Minecraft mods using real programming languages and professional tools. CodaKid’s online classes are self-paced and include live support from a friendly team of engineers. Since 2016 CodaKid has taught nearly 10,000 students to code in 15 countries and growing. CodaKid’s camps and classes provide the highest level of kids coding instruction available in the market with a fun, student centered approach and small group attention.

 

Maker Camp around you

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Maker Community has an amazing camp around the world to help community to engage in Maker projects together via Maker Camp. Let your kids get envolved in one of those camps near you.

Maker Camps can be found around the world. Many libraries, makerspaces, and community centers are hosting Maker Camps for the kids in their communities. Meet your neighbors who are taking part in Maker Camp!

https://makercamp.com/explore

 

Coding with the Tynker Summer Code-A-Thon for FREE!

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Summer is already here – and if you’re like most parents, you’re looking for fun ways to keep your children engaged. Research shows that students who do not participate in educational activities over the summer can lose up to two months’ worth of learning, putting them behind their peers when they return to school in the fall.

Tynker’s Summer Code-A-Thon, a 6-week summer program open to any kids with a free Tynker account. The Summer Code-A-Thon keeps kids engaged and motivated with weekly challenges, competitions, and prizes. As they learn to code, kids of all experience levels will express their creativity, practice reading and math skills, and develop computational thinking!

Great for Beginners and Advanced Coders

  • Complete fun coding projects every week – Each week we’ll introduce a new coding project with options for both visual and text coding tracks. Kids’ minds will be challenged as they create projects based on fun weekly themes that showcase their coding skills and creativity!
  • Publish and share projects with the Tynker community – Kids complete any available mission, publish the finished project, then get inspiration from what other kids have created!
  • Earn awesome certificates and prizes – There are tons of fun, motivating certificates that kids can receive for participation, achievement, and completion. The top 20 projects each week will win a special certificate and a limited edition Tynker T-shirt!
  • Open to all! – The Code-A-Thon is open to any child with a free Tynker account, but requires a connected parent account in order for a child to be eligible to receive additional participation certificates and prizes. No purchase necessary.

Get Started for Free!

Starting on July 2, 2018, anyone can participate in the Code-A-Thon from home with a laptop, desktop, or Chromebook computer, or with the Tynker app on an iPad or Android tablet. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Create a free student account for your child and verify the account with your parent email address.
  2. Log in to the student account.
  3. Start coding!
    On the Tynker app: Click on the lightning bolt icon at the top right of the home screen to view notifications. Click on the “Start” button on the notification to start the challenge.
    On the computer: Go to your dashboard and click on the Summer Coding Challenge.

Stay tuned for the Code-A-Thon kick-off, and be sure to share this free program with any friends looking for new ways to stimulate their children’s minds over the summer!

Coding Club near you?

Have you heard of coding club?

It’s a worldwide network of FREE, volunteer-led coding clubs for children aged 9-13. You can find more info from below page.

https://www.codeclubworld.org/

I took my son to one of those program in Seattle back in 2016 when my son was only 10 but he has a blast time and earned a lot. He really enjoyed learning scratch programming. Check out a local coding club program hosted by volunteers and start making small impacts in your child’s life.

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Great FREE coding program from PluralSight

PluralSight has amazing FREE coding program for kids. I personally believe this is one of the best FREE summer coding program online. Including web development, mobile app develpoment as well as game design.

Amazing FREE coding program for kids for FREE.
1.Amazing things you can do with a Web Browser
2.Teaching Kids to program
3.Learning To program with Scratch
4.Basic HTML for kids
5.Learn to program for games: Kodu kingdom defense
6.Making Games with Hopscotch
7.Learning to build apps with App Inventor

https://www.pluralsight.com/kids-courses

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Best way to teach kids how to code

School break is near and it’s exciting to spend a lot of time with kids on some of STEM projects.

Here I like to introduce the best approach how to introduce kids how to code.

1.Engage with robot kits  

Kids love physical engagement. Coding normally stays  inside the computer premises. The best strategy is to combine those two. Coding with robot !

Here are a few recommended kits kids can learn coding while tinkering with robot kits.

Gizmos & Gadgets Kit, 2nd Edition

Littlebit kits has great reputation to combine coding with physical invention kids. It transforms passive screen time into a passion for hands-on inventing, problem solving and creativity along with coding.

 

Codey Rocky

Codey-Rocky

Codey Rocky is Smart robot for beginner coding and AI learning. And very durable and well built for beginning coding learners. Its predecessor mBot has similar functions/features but it uses old / existing Scratch code. If you are ready to upgrade and keep with Scratch 2.0 to 3.0 skill please go for Codey Rocky since it allows you to code from not just PC, but also tablet/mobile device.

The beauty of this product (Codey Rocky) is that it does use the same programming language you learned (Scratch 3.0 – available from August 2018 from MIT) from Scratch.mit.org (Currently it shows 2.0 but it will be turned into 3.0 in August 2018).

2.Start with Visual Programming

Visual programming is great way to start learning coding.

Scratch

The most prime example is to learn from Scratch which is developed by MIT.

The Scratch is the best known for its easy way to start learning coding as well as global community to share their works. As I mentioned earlier Scratch 2.0 is getting upgraded to 3.0 and if you are a fresh new student please start with 3.0 (available from August 2018).

 

Code.org

Code.org is one of the best entry level coding platform where any kids can learn coding from visually stunning environments. If you are never exposed to programming and if you are afraid where to start your programming please start with Code.org. This is the best place to start.

 

Finding the best summer STEM camp

kids

I am a big believe on technologies in terms of how it will shape the culture and the way of living of the next generation. Bringing kids on board with top skills like computational thinking through coding is very important assets in young kids’ development. But the flip-side is that kids still need to keep with other academic subjects, social aspects as well as sports. That’s why filtering / searching STEM camp with a sort of social/sport aspects are critical. We are sending kids to STEM camp for study itself. It should be ideal to pick a camp combining academics, teamwork and sports.

I can’t suggest a particular program but here is the overall guideline I recommend,

1.GOOD COMBINATION

I always encourage parents to look for camps combining not just STEM focus but also a program having a good teamwork as well as sports as well. We all know that kids can’t focus academics all day but they need a good breaks with fun sports outdoor as well as a good teamwork exercise.

2.Engagement

A lot of program provides a full day program but at the same time even a sleepover option as well. By helping kids to fully immerse into the camp should result in better outcome. Please pay attention to activity, quality of program and other element (like combining game with coding) to engage kids into the program.

3.YEARS OF SERVICE

Please also pay attention to years of service. This adds up quality and domain knowledge to the camp.

4.REVIEW

Please check with review, forum and web portal space where you get feedback on the particular camp or brands before signing up.

5.NOT SKILLS, BUT ALSO FUNDAMENTALS 

Most of all, camps are focusing too much on skills (like how to do C++ or JAVA) vs CS fundamentals. At the end of the day kids will absorb computational thinking, creative decision making and problem solving skills, not technical skill itself. So please don’t expect kids to start making game or apps out of 1 or 2 weeks long program.

 

HOW TO HELP KIDS TO LEARN CODING WITHOUT INVESTING TOO MUCH MONEY

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Raising kids in a fast faced digital era is daunting challenge day to day. Money wise as well as trendy wise. Teaching a kid how to code is in average very expensive. One of the most popular program like “Robotics and Visual Programming Lab with VEX IQ” from ID Tech Summer CAMP for just 1 week costs around $1,049 in Seattle, Washington. For older kid from 13 years or older there is even more expensive like “Autonomous and Self-Driving Robotics Lab” running around $4,099 for 2 weeks.

For your kids’ long summer you don’t have to suffer financial burdens you don’t have to. There are decent number of FREE resources you can keep up your kids’ STEM level as long as you watch them over how they are doing.

I believe the biggest challenge in terms of introducing kids how to code or STEM education has been fun factor. Kids normally shy away from EDUCATION flavored program/camp. They jump into fun or exciting ventures but slow to engage when you find themselves in EDUCATION powered programs/camps. One of the strategies should be mixing education with some fun factors like GAME programming or sending kids to STEM camp with a lot of sports/outdoor activities.

Coming back to FREE resources in terms of STEM/Coding education.

1.code.org

Known for Hours of Code, this website has tones of FREE resources to learn coding plus very kids friendly, which means a lot of familiar Disney characters showing up to help kids to learn coding. Backed by industry leaders this site has one of the best resources in terms of programming / Computer Science resources.

2.Khan Academy

khanacademy.org has great STEM tutorials not just programming but also general Math/Science materials.

3.EDX

EDX.ORG has great children’s resources for coding education. One of my favorite class is “Programming in Scratch“.